Gymnasts Break Over 194 for the Fourth Time This Season

First-year Jacey Baldovino
First-year Jacey Baldovino

DURHAM, N.H. - Following a second-place finish at Maryland last weekend, the Bulldogs traveled to the Whittemore Center in New Hampshire Sunday as they faced Brown, Kentucky and New Hampshire. Kentucky took a powerful lead to win the meet (196.800) during UNH's senior meet. Close behind, UNH placed second with a 196.425. Yale came away in third earning a 194.675. Brown finished the competition in fourth with a team score of 193.525. This is the fourth time this season the Bulldogs have earned over a 194.000. The 2018 Yale gymnastics team holds four out of the top 10 team scores in program history.

Yale started off the afternoon with a great performance on the balance beam, the Bulldogs posted a total score of 48.100. First-year Charlotte Cooperman started off with a strong 9.725, sticking her dismount. Junior Kiarra Alleyne kept the momentum going for the Bulldogs posting a 9.750 hit beam routine. Sophomore Emma Firmstone and Junior Jessica Wang followed Alleyne in the lineup. The all-around duo of first-year Jacey Baldovino and sophomore Jade Buford earned a 9.750 or higher on this event. Buford hit a gorgeous beam set of a 9.775. Baldovino's 9.800 anchor-performance finished out this event nicely.

"I was a bit nervous coming into this meet because my performance last week took a hit on my confidence. However, one competition does not define my gymnastics. This led to one of my best meets this season," said Baldovino.

The Bulldogs caught fire on its second rotation, posting a near season-best 49.025 on the floor exercise. First-year Alyssa Firth led the Bulldogs with a huge 9.750, tying her career high. This is her second appearance of the day. Senior Sloane Smith delivered and tied her season best (9.725), while teammate Alleyne joined Firth earning a 9.750. Baldovino, Buford and Firmstone continued their all-around competitions all posting a 9.800 or higher on this event. Firmstone competed a massive routine, sticking every pass earning a 9.850. This score landed her sixth place. Baldovino showed off her personality in her routine, posting another 9.800 to match her beam score. Finishing off the event, Buford's 9.875 propelled Yale to hit their team goal of a 49.000. Her score earned her a third-place finish amongst stiff competition.
 
"We have put in so many numbers at practice that we're confident in ourselves and each other to go out and hit our routines. It's all about staying relaxed and having fun, which this team truly knows how to do. It has definitely shown this season," said Firmstone.

The Bulldogs moved to the vault for the third rotation, which was their second-best event of the day. Underclassman dominated filling all six spots of lineup, earning a total score of 48.800. Sophomore Anna Jennings led this event off with a 9.650, posting a new season-high. Firmstone followed earning a 9.625. Buford continued her all-around competition contributing a solid score of 9.775. Firth tied Buford earning a new career high and sticking her yurchenko full (9.775). Baldovino competed yet another fantastic full twisting yurchenko joining Firth and Buford with a 9.775. All three Bulldogs placed top 10. To finish off the lineup, sophomore Rebecca Chong stuck her vault, earning a massive 9.825. The season-high score placed her in third against No. 8 Kentucky and No. 32 New Hampshire.

Yale finished the meet with a 48.300 performance on the uneven bars. Firmstone started off this event with a hit routine (9.325). Junior Roxanne Trachtenberg stuck her dismount earning a 9.700. Buford came up in the third spot, delivering an impressive bar set earning 9.725. Baldovino executed a gorgeous bar routine, sticking her dismount earning a 9.850, which led her to a top five finish. The Bulldog's score was bolstered by a near season-best 9.700 from senior Megan Ryan and a 9.775 from Wang.

Yale had three competitors in the all-around. Buford posted a 39.150 securing her fourth-place finish, edging out UNH's Danielle Mulligan by half of a tenth. Firmstone placed fifth (37.850) amidst the tough competition. Baldovino posted another 39.000 all-around earning a 39.225, giving her a third-place finish. Yale took three out of the top five spots in the all-around competition.

The Bulldogs head to Bridgeport next Saturday Mar. 17 for their last competition before ECAC Championships, one of the biggest competitions of the season. It will be a quad competition including the host team, Brown and Centenary. Competition begins at 6:30 pm.

report by Anna Jennings '20, Yale Sports Publicity